Martin Perez standing out as Sox's best starter


The Boston Red Sox avoided being swept by the Houston Astros with a 5-1 victory in Thursday's series finale.

Christian Arroyo put Boston on the board first with a three-run home run in the second inning. That would be all the Red Sox would need thanks to a brilliant performance by starter Martin Perez. Xander Bogaerts drove in the two insurance runs with a double in the seventh.

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Here are three quick takeaways from Boston's win:

Martin Perez has been Boston's best starter

Perez was incredible for the Red Sox in Thursday's outing. The southpaw pitched 7 2/3 innings of shutout baseball while striking out four Astros hitters. He needed only 82 pitches to accomplish the feat.

The performance wasn't an anomaly. Perez has been the Red Sox's best starter over the last month, and that's saying a lot given this rotation's surprising consistency. In his last seven starts, he's 4-1 with a sparkling 1.98 ERA.

Perez now leads all Red Sox starters this season with a 3.09 ERA and ranks second with a 1.23 WHIP. Not bad for a guy who was re-signed to be the fourth or fifth arm in the rotation.

Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez get much-needed knocks

Xander Bogaerts was 0 for his last 19 heading into Thursday's game. J.D. Martinez was 1-for-11 in Houston.

Both Red Sox sluggers ended their slumps in the series finale.

Bogaerts came through with a two-run double in the seventh inning for his 15th two-bagger of the season. It was his second knock of the game.

Despite the slump, Bogaerts' numbers show he's still one of the best hitting shortstops in the game this year. The 28-year-old is now hitting .312 with 10 homers, 33 RBI and a .911 OPS.

As for Martinez, he snapped his cold streak with two doubles in the win. The Red Sox designated hitter leads the team with a .322 batting average and .962 OPS.

Momentum heading into the Bronx

The Red Sox needed this win after dropping the first three games of the series vs. Houston. Especially with their weekend series against the New York Yankees looming.

Boston heads to the Bronx for a three-game series vs. its archrival starting Friday night. The Yankees currently trail the second-place Sox by 2.5 games in the American League East standings. The Tampa Bay Rays still lead the division by two games heading into their series vs. the Texas Rangers.

The Red Sox hope Thursday's win is indicative of the offense waking up after what was a miserable series at the plate. Otherwise, they could find themselves third or even fourth in the AL East when their series in New York wraps up.

First pitch for Friday's Red Sox vs. Yankees matchup is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

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